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Anne Hébert.

Toronto, Stoddart Publishing, c1980, 1982.
101pp, cloth, $12.95.
ISBN 0-7737-2006-5.

Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

Héloïse is a stark and compelling novel, a shadowy and gripping web of the underworld that Anne Hébert spins out fully in only 101 pages.

Bernard, the main character, is a typical young Frenchman until he glimpses Héloïse in the Paris Métro. Héloïse is an evil, but beautiful, spirit whose eternal life depends upon her destroying other life. Bernard becomes obsessed with her. He must find her; he must love her. His earthly wife Christine is the rational, everyday sounding board against which the love affair of Bernard and Héloïse is played. Much of the terror we feel, we feel through Christine.

Many of the interchanges between Héloïse and Bernard take place in the subterranean world of the Paris subway system. Anne Hébert captures the fear and the dankness of this literal and metaphorical underground. It is hell on earth.

Bernard's obsession with death, which is all and everything that Héloïse is, tears him from family and friends, and it is in this wrenching process, as we watch Bernard become someone else, that the horror of Héloïse hits home. It is a powerful allegory. Highly recommended.

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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